Zev Sero zev at sero.name
Fri Jan 18 08:41:10 PST 2013

On 17/01/2013 6:40 PM, Kenneth Miller wrote:
> I have always presumed that the phrase "chalav stam" means exactly the same thing as "chalav hacompanies". It is*NOT*  milk which has no supervision at all, but rather it is milk which lacks Jewish supervision but does have government supervision. Milk which has no supervision at all is called "chalav akum" or "chalav nochri". (In fact, when I explain Chalav Yisrael to people, I am careful to say that ALL poskim require the milk to be supervised; the machlokes is whether the supervision must be Jewish, or whether the government is adequate.)

I must repeat what I've written before, that this is a misunderstanding
of RMF's position.  He does *not* accept gov't supervision instead of
"yisrael ro'ehu".   Rather, he holds that the fact that the government
sends inspectors to the processing plant and imposes fines if they find
any hanky-panky, together with the fact that there is no money to be made
from tampering with the milk at the plant, allows *us* to be the remote
mashgichim, using the principle that if we are 100% certain of something
then "anan sahadi", it's as if we literally witnessed it.  He derives
this from the fact that eidei kiddushin are eidei kiyyum, not eidei birur,
and yet the eidim for kiddushei biah don't actually see anything.  It's
their absolute certainty that if the couple informed them what they were
about to do, and remained alone for long enough to do it, then they must
have done it, that allows them to be eidim.  By the same principle, if we
can be just as certain that the milk has not been messed with then we can
be the Jewish supervision that the halacha requires.

Note that the mere presence of a government inspection regime is not enough,
since inspectors can be bribed, or can simply miss things.  It's a chazakah
that people can and will evade government supervision to do all sorts of
dishonest things.  What makes this different is 1) in a large plant many
people would have to be paid off, and 2 and most importantly) there's no
profit to be made from it, so the cost of the necessary bribes and/or the
risk of detection, couldn't possibly be worth it to anybody.  He explicitly
says that at a private farm, where inspectors don't come very often and the
farmer may happen to have some treif milk that he could tip into the tank
and earn an extra dollar, we cannot be eidim that it didn't happen, however
unlikely we think it.

But if you look at the long teshuvah, the third in the series in YD vol 1,
you will see that all this analysis of inspectors and risk and benefit is
ultimately irrelevant, provided that we buy from a non-Jewish retailer.
If you buy a carton of milk from the bodega, there is no need to go into
any of this, because RMF's big chiddush, which ultimately serves as the
basis of his whole shitah, is that this absolute certainty that amounts to
"eidus" is only necessary with respect to the last nochri who owned the
milk before it came to yad yisroel.  If we can be certain that it was not
tampered with from when he bought it until he sold it to us, then we don't
need to worry about what happened before he got it.   So we don't need to
go into the government inspection at the plant, and how effective it is,
and how much it would cost to bribe or evade it, or any of that.  We know
that the bodega received the milk in a sealed container, and it is still
sealed now, so we are *just as certain* that he didn't tamper with it as
we are with respect to the container of "cholov yisroel" that sits next to
it in his fridge.  If we can't be certain that he didn't open and reseal
the normal milk, then we have the same problem with the CY!

So all the discussion that focuses on the previous points turns out to be
irrelevant, unless we buy from a Jewish retailer who got it directly from
the manufacturer, so that the manufacturer is the last nochri who owned it,
and thus the one to whom the gezeirah applies.  If one accepts RMF's
shitah in principle, having been convinced by his logic, but doubts his
practical conclusions about the efficacy of gov't supervision, then one
can easily remedy the problem by making sure to buy milk from nochrim.
The real sticking point, then, is not the metzius regarding gov't
supervision, but the lomdus; does one accept his chiddushim or not?

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and
zev at sero.name          substantial reason' why he should be permitted to
                        exercise his rights. The right's existence is all
                        the reason he needs.
                            - Judge Benson E. Legg, Woollard v. Sheridan

More information about the Avodah mailing list